Use A Wind Gauge

Or Just Watch The Trees!

Some kite fliers find a wind gauge handy. However, if you don't have one, observing trees and leaves is a fair substitute! After a few years without one, I finally got one on the 25th December ;-)

There it is in the photo down there. Love those little spinning cups! It seems the mechanism is very accurately made, and also extremely light. Operation is completely silent and vibration-free.

This has given a new dimension to the flight reports since I can now quote precise numbers to accompany the hand-waving narrative! Visitors to this site now have more accurate info on how the MBK kites behave at various wind speeds. Well, at least they will have when we get around to posting a new flight report for each and every MBK kite design...

My Big MBK E-book Bundle has step-by-step instructions for making most of the designs. It's a collection of PDF file downloads.

Most portable wind meters fall into 2 categories, tubular and electronic. In this day and age, there is a very wide range of electronic models to choose from.

The Electronic Wind Gauge

Wind Gauge - Rotating Cups
Wind Gauge - Rotating Cups

These are all the rage with a variety of wind-related outdoor sports people...

The handy little devices are used in sailing, windsurfing, paragliding, you name it. However, these things are often far more than just meters for wind speed! More like complete little weather stations, informing you of everything such as altitude, dew point, temperature, chill factor and barometric pressure.

From a kite-fliers' point of view, the ability of a wind meter (or anemometer as they are also known) to monitor average speed seems like a great feature. Again, though, how do they do in extremely light conditions when your 2-Skewer Dopero is hanging up there and hardly a leaf is stirring? Surprisingly well, it turns out. The best of these devices are able to measure reliably over quite an enormous range of wind speeds. From almost nothing to 150 kph or so.

The Hall Wind Gauge

Wind Gauge - Hall Wind Meter
Wind Gauge - Hall Wind Meter

This simple mechanical device is just a clear tube with a light disk which floats up and down on a central spindle. You just point the small air inlet into the wind, and read the wind speed off the scale printed on the wall of the tube. I can remember seeing something similar in my childhood, when my father used to be responsible for a small meteorological station.

Having never actually used a gauge of this type, I have to wonder how they perform in extremely light winds. Also, you would have to guess at the average wind strength, based on the movements of the disk over a minute or so.

On the plus side, you never need to change batteries! Also, the device is so simple that with good care it should keep working forever.

Trees And Leaves As A Wind Gauge

Before getting a good wind meter I used to just go by the motion of trees and their leaves. Also, the sound of those leaves! This actually gives useful information over a very wide range of wind speeds. From personal experience, the following list sums up the behavior of gum trees in winds of various strengths...

  • Dead Calm. No motion, no sound. Duh!
  • Very Light. Some leaf motion, no sound.
  • Light. Frequent leaf and twig motion, very little sound.
  • Light-to-Moderate. Small branches in motion, obvious leaf noise during gusts.
  • Moderate. Larger branches in motion, constant leaf noise.
  • Moderate-to-Fresh More motion, more noise.
  • Fresh. Most of the tree's branches are moving, with plenty of leaf noise.

That's just off the top of my head. Anything more than 'fresh' isn't of much interest to most single-line kite fliers. One day I'll probably do some observations with wind gauge in hand, to compile a more definitive list...

Oh, one little complicating factor - not all trees behave the same! For example, pine needles hardly budge until the wind really picks up. At the other extreme, palms and other plants with fronds tend to be much more sensitive to wind than most suburban trees.

Into DIY? My Big MBK E-book Bundle has step-by-step instructions or detailed plans for all of my kite designs. It's a collection of PDF file downloads.

You might like these...

I can tell you love kites...

Otherwise you wouldn't be all the way down here near the bottom of the page :-)

So, could you do me just a small favor? 

Please sign up for my free monthly publication, "Tethered Flying". No other emails will be sent, and your details are safe with me. You do need to be at least 16 years old. There's...

  • A huge "photo of the month" (via a link)
  • 3 "tips of the month" (one each for beginners, parents and the more experienced)
  • A "flight report of the month" (selected from my own flying logs, with a photo)

Looking forward to hearing from you...

P.S. My free kite-making e-book "Simplest Dowel Kites" can be downloaded as soon as you sign up.


Back to top of page

Need winders, reels, flying line?

We earn a small commission if you click the following link and buy something. The item does not cost you any more, since we are an "affiliate" of Amazon.

Click here to buy anything you need. Just use the Search box in there if you need different weights or lengths of line, for example.

P.S. Keep an eye out for books by kite author Glenn Davison, a prominent kite person in the USA.

What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    1-Skewer Roller Lets Rip

    Sep 21, 19 09:07 AM

    No actual ripping of sail material occurred, but boy, did the little kite scoot around! ... After a short session over our roof-top the other day, the kite seemed to pull left so a side-tether was tig…

    Read More

Wind Speeds

Light Air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2

Gentle ...
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3

Moderate ...
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4

Fresh ...
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5

Strong ...
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7

Like/share this site...

Like/share this page...


Plenty of fun kite info, photos and videos - there's definitely too much here for only one visit! Feel free to leave your impressions of this site or just this page, below...